Increasing prices nullify higher salaries

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Coming back from the office, Nguyen Van Anh, a post office clerk from Thuong Tin District in Hanoi, is in a hurry to prepare dinner.

She wants to have a quick meal because she has to rush to be ready for her extra job managing her family grocery store, located right in her home.

Anh's salary at the post office will increase May 1, but she says she's still unhappy as the raise is insignificant compared to the increasing price of everyday goods.

"My salary may increase by only about VND200,000 (US$10.5) per month. It is not enough to offset price hikes, let alone improve my living standards," Anh said. "So, I still have to do an extra job to live."

According to a recent government decree, employees at state-owned companies and agencies will have their monthly minimum salary increased from VND650,000 ($34) to VND730,000 ($38) from May 1.

Foreign companies were also ordered to increase their minimum wages to between VND1.04 million-1.34 million.

Dang Quang Dieu, deputy head of the Socio-Economic Department at the Vietnam Labor Union, said: "In fact, the salary increase will not match price increases on the market, so the life of laborers will still be difficult, even more difficult compared to before the salary increase."

The salary hike only makes up for economic growth and inflation of last year, he said. This year, inflation may be higher, thus the income increase may meet only a portion of laborers' needs.

Consumer prices climbed 8.51 percent from January to March, according to the General Statistics Office.

Pham Lan Huong, head of the department of international economic integration under the Central Institute of Economic Management, said salaries can meet only 60-65 percent of laborers' daily needs.

Nguyen Hoang Lan, a teacher from the Hanoi-based Chu Van An secondary school said: "My current monthly income is VND1.8 million ($94.7). I don't know exactly how much it will increase. But, I think it will be small, not enough to do anything."

Tong Thi Minh, head of the Salary and Wages Department at the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said: "The salary increase is in line with the current state budget and the country's economic situation. Laborers need to adjust their spending to overcome difficulties."

Not sure that her new salary will be enough for her two children's school fees, Lan has to teach evening classes at some English training centers to increase her meager income.

"We've cut spending on holidays and shopping, and use electricity, gas, and water more economically," she said.

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